Please join the Drew Theological School as we gather to express our appreciation to

Dr. Wesley Ariarajah

Professor of Ecumenical Theology
Drew faculty member 1997-2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014
3pm – 5 pm, Mead Hall, Founders Room

Dr. S. Wesley Ariarajah, Professor of Ecumenical Theology, will be retiring this June after 17 years of service to Drew University and the Theological School.  His irenic vision, wisdom, and courageous humility have indelibly touched many in the global academy and the church.  From his Methodist parish in Sri Lanka to the Director of the Interfaith Dialogue Program and the Deputy General Secretary of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, to his classes on world religions in the University in the Forest, Dr. Ariarajah has engaged and created communities seeking truth and reconciliation.

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Individuals needing assistance should contact the Housing, Conference, and Hospitality Office at (973) 408-3103 at least five working days prior to the event to ensure appropriate arrangements.

Please Share Your Memories and Wishes Below

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31 Responses to “A Gathering to Celebrate Dr. Wesley Ariarajah”

  1. Robb W. Shoaf says:

    I have fond memories of Wesley as both a parishioner and a colleague. I always appreciated our conversations and his insight into faith and the life of the community of faith.

  2. Dan Gepford says:

    Prof. Ariarajah has been an amazing teacher, advisor, and example, and he will be much missed at Drew. In the classroom, he was knowledgeable across a great range of topics, but always down-to-earth in his explanations. His kindness and interest in his students’ progress has extended well after our graduation. When he led our “cross-cultural” trip to India, the students always found that we were treated by everyone with great respect, as if we were visiting dignitaries, simply because of our association with the internationally esteemed Dr. Ariarajah. I will always be grateful for his wisdom, his good humor, and his kindness.
    -Dan Gepford

  3. Chaplain Dave Archer says:

    Blessings of Grace and Joy in the company of one of the World’s Great Men of Humble Character and Christlike Love. Strolling down the streets of Ocean Grove and along the Pilgrims Pathway to Beautiful Ocean Scenery off the coast of NJ reminds me of Partners And Liaisons in Service (PALS) during the Doctor of Ministry Courses at OGCMA. Then, the trumpeting of the Schofar and listening to the Words of Wonderful Wisdom Gently shared from the Compassionate Mind of Dr. Professor Wesley Ariarajah. We have All been Blessed by his Companionship and Scholarly Insights of Faith Lived out in Full Expression of true Holiness. Amen

  4. Rev. Lynn Czarniecki says:

    It was my good fortune to have taken World Religions with Dr. Ariarajah. He made the theology and practice of each religion completely clear and comprehensible. I looked forward to his class each week. What I remember most is the paper I wrote for his class. The original assignment was to write about one religion in depth. However, I had just attended Drew’s one day conference that was held on the first anniversary of 9-11. There were three speakers, one from each of the Abrahamic faiths. Their lectures about religious pluralism inspired me. I asked Dr. Ariarajah if I could write my paper on religious pluralism. He suggested that the topic was too broad and invited me to write my paper using those lectures/speakers as a jumping off point to examine pluralism from the perspective of the three Abrahamic faiths. Researching and writing that paper was an amazing experience for me and one single blessing that came from it was my introduction to the works of Abraham Joshua Heschel, now one of my all time favorite theologians. I thank Dr. Ariarajah every time I pick up another one of Rabbi Heschel’s writings. His flexibility and encouragement to explore a different path was the mark of a truly excellent and dedicated educator. Thank you so much Dr. Ariarajah. Enjoy your retirement!
    Rev. Lynn Czarniecki, Theo ‘04

  5. Rev. Bill Imler, Assistant Dean 1960-67 says:

    In recent years when returning for the Tipple-Vosburgh Lexctures it has been my pleasure and privilege to meet Dr. Wesley Ariarajah. I come from those meetings with deep appreciation for him, his contribution to the Theological School, and his friendship. His mentor in his early ministry was Dr. G. T. Niles, and Weslely’s biography of D. T. Niles helps all of us get better acquainted the contribution of Asian Christians. Thank you, Wesley, for your great contribution to the Drew community.

  6. Pastor Doris Haley says:

    Professor Ariarajah:

    I can’t make the celebration but I wanted you to know how important your message of understanding folks in different cultures and traditions have been to my ministry. I have taken confirmands as well as members of my churches to other programs to teach them the importance of understanding all people of the world. Thanks for everything and may God continue to bless you as you retire. Pastor Doris L. Haley

  7. dear Wesley: Retirement is not so bad. Of course it is not as great as teaching at Drew! I thoroughly enjoyed the years we had together there. Now that you are free, come to see us. My phone number is 423-581-2185. Dave

  8. Lucy Porter says:

    I’ve enjoyed hearing you preach and have been blessed by your gentle, loving spirit. Rev. Lucy Porter

  9. Terry Todd says:

    My dear colleague Wesley,

    One of the many gifts you possess is your hearty laughter. We’ve laughed together here in Madison, and on a night train in Kerala, India, and in other points in between. Your laughter has reminded me to take seriously the task at hand, but to take myself less seriously. You have taught me to understand laughter as holy and life-giving, a sign of the comedic dimension of human encounters with the divine. I would imagine that your grandchildren mirror your laughter, and you, theirs.

    So in this new phase of life they call retirement, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and wish you and Shayamala and your entire family much love, light and yes, laughter.

  10. Rev. Michelle Bodle says:

    Dr. Ariarajah –

    I always looked forward to attending your classes. You invited students to explore within themselves what they already knew and live it out wherever God may take them.

    May blessings to you as you enter retirement!

    • Dale Patrick says:

      I just want to say that I am proud to be a graduate of an institution that has such a distinguished faculty member. I graduated long before Dr. Ariarajah joined Drew, but we all belong to a living community.

  11. Nancy Roberts DePoe says:

    Dear Dr. Ariarajah,

    I remember my classes with you when you first came to Drew, what seems so many years ago now…and still, hard to believe how the time has flown by. Thank you for being a part of my life at Drew! Your insight, openness, easy smile and warm laughter were, and are, a delight to all who have had the blessing of calling you — teacher.

    You have touched many and there is no greater accolade than that! Thank you and may the next phase of your journey be all that you want it to be!

  12. Dear Dr. Ariarajah,
    It was certainly an opportunity to sit in your class while a studnet at Drew University Theological School. The claim by Christianity that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation and your position that this position hinders interfaith dialogue and ecuminacal collaboration gave me a new theological perspective on this matter that will will carry in life forever. I have since return to Liberia in West Africa and working for the United Methodist Church. God bless you and the family in your retirement.

  13. Rev. Doug Mackey says:

    Dr. Ariaraja,
    I am sad to see you leaving. Before I even got to Drew, my mentor, another Drew Alumni, told me that I would love taking classes with you and that I had to be sure to get at least one. I was lucky enough to have two! It is unfortunate that I will not be able to encourage others to look for your classes.
    One of my biggest regrest about my time at Drew is that due to the long commute, my ability to interact with professors and classmates beyond class time was extremely limited, yet as teacher and my advisor, you always made time to meet with me when I could be on campus. I thank you for having that kind of dedication to your students.
    My prayers for you and your family as you move into this next stage of your journey. Your warm smile and laughter will be greatly missed at Drew.

  14. Chick Straut says:

    I wish I could be with you, but my schedule prohibits it. You have been such an inspiration to those of us who value ecumenical, interfaith and justice-informed ministry, that I rejoice in the celebration of your retirement, despite the fact that we shall now not have the opportunities to see and work with you at least as much. I shall always be indebted to you for the fact that, in the past five years of my retirement, while I have been an adjunct faculty member in the religious studies department of St. Joseph’s College, Brooklyn campus, I have taught several courses to undergraduates, but my favorite has been Issues of War and Peace. Your book, “Axis of Peace”, was prominent on the bibliography of the syllabus and often cited in my lectures. The spirit of that book captures, for me, the essence of who you are. Welcome to retirement!

  15. Anne Yardley says:

    Wesley – I am so sorry I will be out of the country for this event because I would love to celebrate with you. I always appreciated your collegiality, your ability to reframe questions to move people closer together, and your wide knowledge of Christianity around the globe.

    Of course one of the big highlights was traveling in India with you and a cross cultural class. I noticed the clever way that you decided a dean needed to get up and speak in certain situations (the water buffalo races come to mind!). I think I especially treasure the visit to the Shanti Ashram in Coimbatore. Seeing you sit with Mrs. Aram who founded the place, talking together, was to get a glimpse of powerful spiritual leaders sharing time.

    Your generosity of spirit has been a tremendous gift to me and to Drew. Blessings in your retirement.

  16. Maxine Clarke Beach says:

    Oh Wesley I wish I could be there! I celebrate this next stage of your life and know that it will offer new riches and possibilities! You quickly became one of my wise mentors when I took the job at Drew. So many times I would walk down the hall and knock on your door and ask if I could run something by you. You were thoughtful, honest and always wise. You can’t help but think theologically! You are always so aware of the godness and the goodness of us all. You have helped form a generation of Drew students who take with them a broader mind and more open heart and a commitment to justice. You will be missed! I have missed you and still would like to run some things by you! So come see Dave and me!

  17. Eileen Gerety says:

    Dear Dr. Ariarajah -

    Congrats on your retirement! Thank you for being the beacon of God’s love and light for everyone. I cherished your class but I also cherish your work. You are an inspiration.

    I’m counting on seeing you at the senior dinner and graduation!!!

    Drew will so miss you! All the best on this next part of the journey….;-)

    Eileen

  18. Stephen Palmer says:

    Dear Wesley,

    I wish to thank you for expanding my ecumenical outlook while I was a student in the late 90s. It has been invaluable to me as I have continued this life’s journey. Truly enjoy your retirement with your steady, calm patience that you always showed to colleagues and students.
    Sincerely,
    Steve Palmer

  19. Betty Livingston Adams says:

    Among my many memorable experiences at Drew was taking your class. I will always cherish your reflective teaching, your engaging scholarship, theological inisght, and your seeming delight in dialoguing with students. Thank you so much for sharing these precious gifts.

  20. Suzanne Graham says:

    Dear Dr. Ariarajah,

    Best wishes to you and your family in this next phase of your life. Thank you for your guidance throughout my time at Drew. Because of your influence and your example, I have a rewarding career in teaching world religions (and I always incorporate something in about “Not Without my Neighbor”)!
    All the best,
    Suzanne

  21. Kyongmook Ryu says:

    I always appreciate your warm concern and favor for international students. Even your bright smile has cheered many of us. “True meaning of Gospel” is resonating every moment in my spiritual journey. I appreciate your scholarship.

  22. Tim Helton says:

    A warm yet effective adviser. He knew just when to push and just how much. I wouldn’t have completed the dissertation without his support!

  23. RobDuncan says:

    Wesley – Best wishes in your retirement.

    I regret that distance prevents me from joining you at the event. But I will be there in Spirit!

    The entire Drew Community will miss you…

  24. Hyuk Seonwoo says:

    Dear Prof. Ariarajah,

    You have not just taught us ecumenical/interfaith theology: you have lived it. Not only throughout my time at Drew but also in my journey as a student/practitioner of ministry and liturgical studies, you have been my dearest teacher and mentor. Even though you are retiring, I believe that the openness, theological depth, and life examples you gave us will never retire. Happy retirement!

  25. Emily Cyrier says:

    Dear Wesley,

    As your retirement draws near, know that you have left an indelible mark on the students, staff and faculty with whom you have worked — your scholarship, your teaching, your mentoring, your friendship — have all made a difference in the world and will continue to do so.

    Your persistent smile, kindness and humility speak to your deep commitment to living the Gospel in your daily life. I have been blessed to be one of the benefactors of this grace.

    Enjoy this new phase of rest, thought, prayer, play, travel, and family time.

    Fondly,

    Emily

  26. Maria Ling says:

    Dr Ariarajah,

    I’ve benefitted much from interacting with you (and your wife) and also being in your classes. The ecumenical spirit you personify encourages me to keep my heart open to ecumenism and its benefits for the Church.

    Thank you for your time shared with international students while I was a student at Drew.

    Blessings!

  27. Beth Quick says:

    Hi Dr. Ariarajah –

    I remember our Authority of Scripture class during 2003, my last semester. So enjoyable.

    I also remember you giving me a great resource about Paul and women and scripture after I preached my senior sermon, confessing how I had crossed out the “keep silent” passage when I was a teenager.

    I appreciate your wisdom and gentle way of teaching with authority. Blessings in your retirement!

  28. Tim Emmett-Rardin says:

    Dr. Ariarajah, I’m sorry I couldn’t make it up for your retirement celebration but please know that you were very much in my thoughts and prayers.

    I have only fond memories of my time with you at Drew – as a student in several classes, and certainly related to the cross-cultural trip to India in 2004. You were, without question, one of my favorite professors and most valued mentors – a gentle and prophetic mix of intellect, wisdom, humility and humor!

    I credit you – through classes with you, and through your books – with really fueling my interest in interfaith engagement, an interest that has informed both personal and professional involvement since coming back to Philly.

    I am grateful that our paths overlapped as they did at Drew, and additionally grateful for your significant contributions to the worldwide interfaith movement – through your groundbreaking work with the World Council of Churches, etc.

    Thank you. And Blessings to you and your family as you enter this phase of your life, Wesley-ji!

    With a whole bunch of gratitude, and peace,
    Tim

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